Can you use an onion that has sprouted?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use an onion that has sprouted?”, and how to plant sprouted onions?

Can you use an onion that has sprouted?

Yes, you can use an onion that has sprouted. The sprouted onion has a slightly bitter taste that can be masked by cooking. 

When the onion starts to sprout, it utilizes the sugars and other nutrients in the onion bulb, to grow the shoots. That is why the onion loses its sweetness during sprouting.

Freshly sprouted shoots are less bitter than fully developed shoots. Therefore, you must hurry before the shoots deplete the nutrients of the onion bulb.

If you are too late and the onion has already started to mold, discard it immediately. If only a small part of the sprouted onion is moldy, cut the moldy part and use the rest of the onion.

How much does a sprout impact onion taste?

The culinary viability of the sprouted onions is based on their taste and texture profile. The green shoots of a sprouted onion have a significantly bitter taste. If you do not repulse bitter foods, you may use the shoots in cooking or even salads.

But if you want to discard the bitter shoots, we won’t judge. The onion bulb develops a fibrous texture due to the loss of moisture. Moreover, the slightly bitter flavor of the onion bulb is also noticeable in a simple taste check.

How to prevent onions from sprouting?

The sprouting of onions is driven by different factors such as age, hormones, and temperature. Warmer surrounding temperatures trigger sprouting and so does exposure to moisture. Therefore, a dark, dry and cool pantry is the ideal storage place for onions.

If the onions have just started to sprout, you do not have much time before they lose their nutrients, texture and begin rotting. Your best bet is to incorporate these freshly sprouted onions into your meals.

If that is not possible, you can chop the sprouted onions and freeze them for later. Do not worry, you do not need to cook or blanch them first. However, there are other ways you can save the sprouted onions and put them to good use. 

How should I store onions?

Sprouted onions rot at a much faster rate than non-sprouted onions. The storage conditions play an important role in preventing the onions from sprouting.

Ideally, the onions should be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place with air circulation. Keep the onions in a basket and do not make large piles. Because the onions at the bottom of the pile will start to rot due to too much pressure.

Always store the onions away from other veggies and fruits. The ethylene gas produced by the other produces triggers and hastens the sprouting in onions. 

How to plant a sprouted onion?

Step 1: 

Peel the onion layers until you reach the clump of the green shoots of the sprouted onion. You do not need a fancy tool to do this. If the outer scales of the onions are not moldy, you can use them in cooking. 

Step 2:

Then separate the clump of shoots by further removing the outer skin. After you have removed the outer membranes, you will see multiple green shoots. Usually, each sprouted onion contains three separate plants.

Step 3:

Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the roots of each plant. This will unbundle the plant shoots. 

Step 4:

The onion sprouts need to sit in a cool and dry place for up to 3 weeks before planting. You do not need to dump them in water to keep them alive.

For sprouting, dug shallow holes into the fertilized soil. Then plant the seedlings just 1″ into the ground placed at a distance of 4″ from each other.

You will start to see small emerging shoots out of the soil after about 3 weeks. For this period, you need to keep the soil moist. Make sure the soil gets sufficient sunlight.

Step 5:

A fertilized, well-drained, somewhat acidic soil combined with the full sun is the ideal growing condition for onion sprouts. Use organic (manure, compost, etc.) or store-bought fertilizer to make sure the soil is nourished.

After about 3 months of growth, the onion bulb reaches the size of a baseball. This only applies if you fulfilled all the growing conditions of the onion sprouts. You need to keep the onions from flowering or else you will have to harvest them.

Step 6:

If the onions do not flower, let them grow until they experience their first frost. When ready to harvest, pull the onions from the ground and shake off the dirt. 


In this article, we answered the question “Can you use an onion that has sprouted?”, and how to plant sprouted onions?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.